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The family of Barbara and Gerald Heil will finally be able to bring the White Bear Lake couple home.

Friends and family shared messages of relief after learning from Italian authorities Tuesday that the couple's bodies were among the remains of five passengers recovered several weeks ago from the wreck of the cruise ship, the Pioneer Press said.

The Heil family issued a statement saying they can now move forward and bring their parents home to rest, WCCO radio said.

The family also expressed thanks for the support they've received from friends, colleagues, neighbors, family and loved ones, as well as people they never met who sent words of encouragement and prayers.

The Heils were the only Americans among the missing after the Costa Concordia cruise ship struck a reef near a Tuscan island and capsized. Some 4,200 people were on board, the Press said.

After putting their kids through school, the retired couple looked forward to the 16-day cruise. Gerald Heil was 69; his wife was 70.

Peace has been found by the Heil family, indicated by the final two lines on the family's website dedicated to the couple.

"We know our parents are together and are happy," the site said. "We look forward to the day when we can all be together again."

AAR to Bring 225 Jobs to Duluth

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Aircraft repair giant AAR Corp. has agreed to take over most of the vacant former Northwest Airlines maintenance facility and bring as many as 225 jobs to the city of Duluth.

The signed letter of intent with the city, announced Tuesday, will let AAR's maintenance, repair and overhaul group occupy 152,000 square feet of the former Northwest hangar, the Star Tribune said. AAR said it plans to hire up to 225 people once the Duluth hangar is operating at full capacity.

"We are making a commitment to Duluth, and today's signing is a major step in establishing a presence here," said Dany Kleiman, AAR's group vice president for maintenance, repair and overhaul. "We hope to become an integral part of the Duluth business community in the coming months."

Duluth Mayor Don Ness said in a prepared statement that this is an important day in the city's history, WDIO-TV said.
"This was a true team effort and our partners worked tirelessly to achieve this important announcement," he said.

Best Buy CEO resigns

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Best Buy said Tuesday that its CEO, Brian Dunn, has resigned.

The Richfield-based electronics company said in a statement that Dunn's departure was in "mutual agreement that it was time for new leadership to address the challenges that face the company," the Star Tribune said.

Dunn said he leaves Best Buy in a position for a strong future.

"I am proud of my fellow employees and I wish them the best," he said in the company statement.

Dunn's departure came despite him telling analysts recently that "I'm excited about the strategy we have for the future and the specific actions we have put in place to improve the business."

Best Buy said there were no disagreements with Dunn on any matter relating to operations, financial controls, policies or procedures, the Washington Post said.
Board member Mike Mikan will serve as interim CEO while the company searches for a permanent replacement.

"We thank Brian Dunn for his many years of service to the company and wish him well in his next endeavors," said company founder Richard Schulze. "As we move forward, we are very pleased to have a strong leader with Mike Mikan's credentials as interim CEO."

Through most of his three-year tenure, Dunn endured criticism for his stewardship of the struggling consumer electronics giant, the Tribune said. Despite frequent calls for his dismissal, Dunn presided over some of the biggest changes in Best Buy's history.

Last month, the retailer said it would close 50 big-box stores and cut 400 corporate positions to save $800 million over three years. The company's core market, big-ticket consumer electronics items like PCs and flat-panel televisions, has been rapidly shrinking as more consumers migrate to the Internet for their shopping, the Tribune said.

Man convicted in St. Paul shooting

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A St. Paul man tossed from a bar for fighting was convicted Monday for shooting a fellow patron who tried to break up a fight, the Star Tribune said.

Byron D. Brantley fatally shot Trevell Glass, 26, with a .44-caliber revolver across the street from Born's Bar last April 13, prosecutor John Ristad told a Ramsey County District Court jury during closing arguments.

The jury found Brantley, 32, guilty of second-degree murder in Glass' shooting and guilty of attempted second-degree murder in the shooting of Ryan L. Davis, then 28, the Tribune said.

Ristad said Brantley emptied the six-round revolver at Glass and Davis after Glass made a disparaging remark about the earlier fight. He also said Brantley tried three times to re-enter Born's after being kicked out.

The defense countered that there was no evidence that Brantley even fired a gun, the Pioneer Press said.

Brantley wanted the last word with Glass, Ristad argued, and that "last word" was delivered through the barrel of Brantley's .44-caliber Magnum revolver.

Ristad told the jury what Brantley had said to his friends as they returned to their car after the shootings, according to Xavier Buckhanan, who also was charged. He testified at Brantley's trial in exchange for a lighter prison sentence.

"You see that?" Buckhanan recalled Brantley saying to him and LeAndrews Miller, another accomplice. "Them n-----s was gettin' tough. I had to air them out."

Charges say Buckhanan told police last year that his cohorts that night were 52 Crips gang members. A photo displayed to jurors showed Brantley with a number "5" tattooed under his right eye and a "2" tattooed under his left, the Tribune said. Ristad said Davis could see the tattoos when the gunman opened fire from about 6 feet away.

District Judge Salvador Rosas set sentencing for June 15.

Minnesota House approves voter ID amendment

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The Minnesota House has given its final approval to a constitutional amendment on whether government-issued photo IDs should be required to vote.

The 72-57 vote came shortly after midnight Wednesday and was on a straight party line, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed, the Star Tribune said. If the Senate gives its final approval, the amendment's place on the Nov. 6 ballot is set.

"Th issue is pretty simple: Are you who you say you are when you go to vote," said House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood.

The Senate vote could come as early as Wednesday, the Pioneer Press said. If both houses pass the measure, it would go directly to the voters. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton lacks the power to veto a constitutional amendment passed by the Legislature.

The question to voters would read: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"

Supporters of the amendment say it will add integrity to the state's election process. Opponents, however, argue it will be difficult and costly to enforce. Democrats predict that requiring a photo ID will harm Minnesota's tradition of same-day voter registration, the Tribune said.

The bill would also require the state to provide free IDs to anyone who doesnt have one, and it would create a new system of "provisional" ballots. Voters who lack a photo ID could cast a provisional ballot that would only be counted several days later after they verified their identity, the Press said.

St. Thomas loses law school ranking over error

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The University of St. Thomas School of Law has lost its ranking after announcing it had reported an incorrect percentage of its 2010 graduates who had jobs at graduation.

U.S. News and World Report magazine stripped the school of its No. 119 spot on its "Best Law Schools" list, banishing it to the category of "unranked," the Star Tribune said Thursday.

Class-action lawsuits have been filed against more than a dozen law schools for intentionally inflating data to recruit students and land a higher perch on U.S. News' influential list of "Best Schools."

St. Thomas has stressed that its error was an honest mistake, reported immediately after it was spotted in an advance copy of the rankings published this month.

"We remain deeply sorry that we failed to catch this discrepancy," school Dean Thomas Mengler told alumni in an email. "It will never happen again," he added in an interview.

The School of Law reported two different numbers on two separate lines of a form regarding the number of 2010 graduates known to be employed at the time of graduation, a school bulletin said. The correct number of 51 graduates (32.9 percent of 155 graduates) was accurately listed on one line of the form, but a different line incorrectly listed 125 graduates (80.6 percent).

The school or magazine did not report why the error occurred.

The revised data led editors to place a red asterisk by the description of the school, the Tribune said.

The share of students employed nine months after graduation, 86.5 percent, is correct in the rankings, the school said. U.S. News gives that number greater weight than the one at graduation.

In response to St. Thomas' data correction, the publication announced it would place the school in the "unranked" category "until the next Best Graduate Schools rankings and until the accuracy of each school's next data submission is confirmed to U.S. News."

Mengler said the decision to unrank the school will "create a disincentive for law schools to promptly report mistaken or erroneous data."

But in a response Wednesday, the editor of U.S. News stood by the call.

"Whether intentional or unintentional, St. Thomas received a rank it should not have been received," Brian Kelly wrote.

The school rose 16 spots higher in the report than last year, a significant leap, the Tribune said.

Employment statistics for new lawyers are increasingly scrutinized measure of a law school's quality. Class-action lawsuits have been filed against more than a dozen law schools for intentionally inflating data to recruit students and land a higher perch on U.S. News' influential list of "Best Schools."

Best Buy to close 50 stores, cut costs

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Best Buy Co. is closing 50 stores in the U.S. in fiscal 2013 and is looking to cut costs by $800 million by fiscal 2015.

The biggest U.S. specialty electronics retailer also says it lost money in its fiscal fourth quarter partly because of a restructuring charge, the Pioneer Press said.

Best Buy lost $1.7 billion, or $4.89 per share, for the period that ended March 3. That compares with a profit of $651 million, or $1.62 per share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 3 percent to $16.08 billion, however, and earnings were $2.47 per share, above analysts' estimates of $2.15 per share, the Press said.

The electronics retailer previously told investors that it wanted to reduce its U.S. square footage footprint by more than 20 percent over the next three to five years, the Star Tribune said.

Last month the company hired former Starbucks chief information officer Stephen Gillett to oversee its digital operations. The Richfield-based company hopes to accelerate its digital sales, one of its fastest-growing businesses, the Tribune said.

Sheriff: 3 dead in Glencoe plane crash


A local sheriff said three adults have died in the crash of a small plane in Glencoe.

McLeod County Sheriff Scott Rehmann said the single-engine plane went down in a field about four miles north of Glencoe and broke apart. No one survived, he said.

Crash Glencoe.JPEG-0ccce.jpg

The Federal Aviation Administration said the crash was reported at 11:12 a.m. Wednesday. Rehmann said witnesses reported hearing a popping noise and then the impact of the plane crashing.

Rehmann said all three victims were adults. Names of the victims have not been released, the Associated Press said.

Authorities said they don't believe the victims were from the Glencoe area, WCCO said.

The National Transportation Safety Board also is expected to investigate, the sheriff said.

Doug Hanneman, editor of the Hutchinson Leader, who was at the scene, said wreckage was scattered over a couple hundred yards in the field, the Pioneer Press said.

Hanneman said local firefighters extinguished the burning wreckage.

ND man found near tracks was Amtrak rider

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Authorities said Wednesday the man found dead along railroad tracks in western Minnesota was a passenger on an Amtrak train headed for Chicago.

The Clay County sheriff's office is waiting for preliminary autopsy results from Ramsey County to determine how 27-year-old Jared Nilles died, the Forum said.

Clay County investigators were en route to the Twin Cities today to meet with Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents working on the case, Clay County sheriff Bill Bergquist said.

Authorities are also checking whether the train had security cameras, the Pioneer Press said.

"I don't know if we'll ever know exactly what happened unless somebody saw something," he said.

BNSF railway contacted the sheriff's office around 7 a.m. Monday after a train conductor spotted Nilles' body along the tracks near Buffalo River State Park, the Forum said.

Nilles graduated from Fargo South High in 2003 before studying screenwriting and film production at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Crowd helps man struck at Woodbury gas station

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A 65-year-old man was badly injured Wednesday after being hit by an SUV at a Woodbury gas station.

Kenneth Burke sustained a head injury and a broken leg after being struck by a Ford Excursion, the Star Tribune said. Members of a gathering crowd tried to keep Burke awake as ambulances drew near.

The driver, 47-year-old Michael Carroll of Woodbury, will most likely not be charged. He pulled up to a gas pump and hit Burke, knocking him down, the Pioneer Press said.

Police got the call for help at 10:14 a.m., the Tribune said. Within minutes, firetrucks, ambulance and fire cruisers filled the parking lot. First responders had to decide how to lift the Excursion, which weighs more than 7,000 pounds.

They tucked an extrication tool called the Jaws of Life and airbags under the vehicle and deployed airbags to lift, Fire Cmdr. John Wallgren said. Burke was conscious and talking as they extricated him, he said.

Burke was in critical condition Wednesday night at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, the Press said.

His wife, Dianne Burke, told others at the scene that Burke was recovering from a stroke, and that's why he was walking with a cane.

Woodbury police, along with the State Patrol, are investigating.

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